Letters / Short Story

Letters / Short Story

Letter 1

I never gave much credence to Calisto’s opinions, even if he reveled in giving them. Curled up on some impossibly narrow ledge, his bored drawl would seep towards me like a plume of odourless smoke and vanish right before my ears. I liked his company though, peculiar as it was. Not many people have a talking cat lounging about in their living room or sleeping on their back at night.

The fact he speaks (rudely and mostly uninvited) is not really that interesting, he tends to say very uninteresting things, but no rule without an exception and today he accidentally obliged.

He was in his usual position on the windowsill, trying to make the half dead fuchsia fully dead by slowly scooping soil out of the pot and onto the carpet when he said “hey, look at that one, he looks exactly like you, except happier maybe”.

‘You’re so rude,’ I replied. ‘How could a man look exactly like me?’

Calisto looked at me with disdain. ‘You do have slightly manly features,’ he said. ‘It’s not a bad thing. Men are not all bad you know.’

I craned my neck to look out the window. Damn. He was right, the man did look very much like me. Plus, he looked happy. Bloody Calisto.

‘I’ll have you know I’m not particularly unhappy,’ I said, winding back my neck to focus on the writing I wasn’t doing. ‘I’m just poisoned.’

This was true. Due to some unfortunate event in my past, I was now full of poison, so much so that I could not be near anyone lest they die if I breathe on them. Rather fortunately, I’d also developed some kind of immunity, so it didn’t kill me. Or Calisto. He says he wishes it did.

I tried to focus on my writing, but that bloody cat had piqued my curiosity. I stood up and looked out the window again. The man was still there, and he was looking towards the house – obviously looking for me as when he saw me, he immediately started racing up the path to the front door.

God, I hated that cat. Calisto laughed his throaty laugh and placed his head on his paws. ‘Maybe it’s love,’ he said and closed his eyes. The doorbell rang like some chime from a bygone age. ‘I’m not in,’ I shouted, fully aware of the futility of the statement.

‘It’s ok, the man said, I’m not really here so you can open the door.’

I looked at Calisto who had one eye open, as if this only deserved half his attention.

‘I’m not here,’ the man repeated, ‘you can’t kill me. With your poison I mean.’ I peeked through the keyhole and looked straight into one of his eyes, his manic smile apparent by his pupil alone.

‘Even if you were not really there and I could not kill you I would still not open the door,’ I said. ‘You seem unhinged.’ I was not usually this rude, Calisto had been a bad influence on me.

‘Now, now, play nicely,’ Calisto said. He was standing right next to my leg now. ‘There’s only room for one evil being in this house, and I’d prefer if it were me.’

I kicked him gently and he flopped onto his back. ‘Is that Calisto,’ the man said. I bent down to look through the keyhole again and as I did so the man stood up and gave me a full view of his genital area. Trousered, but still.

‘How do you know Calisto,’ I said

‘Open the door and I’ll explain.’ He had an irritatingly sweet voice, made even more irritating by the fact he sounded sincere and nice.

Calisto rubbed his back against my shin and looked up at me. ‘Come on girl, you know you want to meet the male you.’ He chuckled cruelly before running back into the living room, no doubt to slowly nudge the fuchsia completely off the windowsill.

I put my hand on the doorknob and twisted it slowly, keeping the security chain in place.

‘If you die it’s your own fault,’ I said. The man put his foot in the crack of the door as soon as I opened it, but he couldn’t push in due to the security chain. Sadly, the chain was rather poorly designed, and he simply slid his arm through the crack and unhinged it.

I quickly covered my mouth with both hands and backed into a corner.

‘I’ll kill you! Well, not on purpose, that came out wrong, but with my general poisoned self.’ It felt ridiculous to talk through my hands.

‘Man me’ as Calisto later adopted him took two steps forward and gently removed my hands.

‘It’s ok,’ he said in a strange kind of whisper, ‘I told you, you can’t kill me, I’m not really here.’

‘What the bloody hell does that even mean?’ I was annoyed now, and a little scared. I hadn’t talked to another human being in person for years, and now one had pushed his way in to my house telling me he was not really there.

‘Let us sit down,’ he said to the sound of the fuchsia pot crashing onto the floor.

The man, who really did look disturbingly like me, sat down on the sofa and crossed his legs.

‘I need you to write a letter,’ he said, folding his face into waves of sincerity.

‘A letter? To who? Or whom, or whatever it is.’ I made a mental note to work on my grammar as I sat down, or perched rather, on the edge of my office chair.

‘To you!’ he exclaimed cheerfully.

Calisto flopped onto his back and laughed so hard he made a strange wheezing sound.

‘I know I’m crazy,’ I said as I sat back in my chair.

‘I have a talking cat, I’m full of poison, my male doppelganger is sitting across from me telling me he’s not really there, and now he wants me to write a letter to myself.’

‘That’s right!’ Man me sounded genuinely enthusiastic and thrilled that I had gone crazy. I had to stop myself from slapping him.

‘But not to you you, to you me. The letter I mean, it’s to you me. Me me.’ Man me pointed to himself with a befuddled expression and uncrossed his legs.

Calisto jumped onto his lap and started purring, rubbing his nose into man me’s armpit proclaiming with disgust he smelt just like me.

At this point I just wanted man me to leave and considering how I was more than likely having some sort of psychotic break I decided the best way to do this was to go along with what the man was saying.

‘OK, I’ll write you a letter,’ I said, folding my trembling hands in my lap.  ‘What’s your address?’

‘Ah,’ said man me and sounded delighted, ‘no need for an address, you can simply write it now and give it to me. Then I’ll leave. You’ll know when it’s time to write the next one.’

My head was hurting now, I’d had enough of both man me and Calisto.

I swiveled around in my chair and pulled a piece of paper from the drawer, rooting around on my desk for a pen. I turned my head and asked him what to write. Man me was standing right behind me now, which made me jump.

‘It’s ok, I’ll write it,’ he said, ‘I am you after all.’ He motioned for me to stand up, which I did, and I think it’s fair to say I was more than a little confused. Man me sat down in my, his, our chair and proceeded to write the letter. When he was done, he gave me the pen to sign it.

Dear Sir,

It has come to my attention that you, like me, are in some need of rescue. It would be foolish of me to describe to you what this rescue might be, neither one of us could really know that, but I have been told that if I write to you, perhaps we can figure it out. This is all very confusing I know; goodness knows I would have thrown this letter in the bin and not given it a second thought had it found its way to me. Hopefully, you will not be as foolish (and I say that not to be rude, but to drive home the point that it’s very important you do not throw away this letter).

You don’t need to do anything right now, just keep this letter safe and wait for the next one.

Kind regards (or best wishes or sincerely yours – whatever you prefer),


‘What does TFO mean,’ I said as I scribbled my name underneath.

‘Oh, it means the first one. You are the first one.’ He gave me a beaming smile and briskly stood up facing me.

‘Right, first one of what?’ I was getting a little bored of my own mind now.

Man me laughed a sort of compassionate laugh and put a hand on my shoulder.

‘First one of you of course.’

I closed my eyes and willed for him to leave.

‘Right, I’m off,’ he said and walked into the hallway.

‘I’ll see myself out. Thanks for the letter, I’m sure it will help us.’ He proceeded to press the letter into my hands.

And with that he was gone. Calisto was asleep on the sofa. Having slid off man me in a dramatically bored fashion, he’d accidentally fallen asleep afterwards. I’m sure he intended to mock me as soon as we were alone.

I went into the kitchen and poured myself a large glass of water, drinking it slowly. As the cold water slid reluctantly down my tight throat, I heard a little thud coming from the hallway.

Letter 2

Calisto looked at me with a sincere expression.

‘Look,’ I said, ‘I’m just asking you for this one thing. Are you really a talking cat or not?’

Calisto stayed eerily still and stared at me without blinking.

My heart started racing.

‘Seriously Calisto, are you real or not?’

Calisto let out a soft miaou, then jumped onto the sofa, purring gently as he rubbed his back against the cushions.

I slumped down next to him, gripping the letters tightly.

‘I’m crazy,’ I said under my breath, eyes scanning the letters in my hands; one from man me and the one which had just landed with a thud in the hallway. Calisto jumped up on the back of the sofa, slinking his way onto my shoulder where he nestled into my neck, his face resting against my cheek.

‘Yeah, I reckon you are,’ he whispered

‘Calisto!’ I jumped off the sofa at such speed that he fell off the back and let out a harsh screech.

I threw the letters in the bin and locked Calisto in the spare room.

‘You can hide me, but I won’t disappear!’ he shouted as I slammed the door and turned the key.

The laptop screen whirred to life as I moved the mouse around. Perhaps if I went back to my writing I could get to the bottom of this little existential crisis, or whatever it was.

 Dear Madam,

I hope you kept the last letter, if only to remind yourself that there would be another one coming.

I can give you a little more information in this one, but not a lot. You see, someone came to see me the other day and he told me that I’m not the only one who’s poisoned. He wouldn’t tell me exactly who you are, but he said you were poisoned too, and that you couldn’t leave your house like me.

I have something I need you to do, but don’t worry, it’s not too scary. I just need you to close your eyes and sit still for twenty seconds. Write down how you feel afterwards.

I prefer to write ‘best wishes’, so

Best wishes,


The laugh started bubbling from the back of my throat, mixing with saliva and madness as it burst out of my mouth and eyes and exploded through the top of my head. I screamed and screamed. And laughed. And sobbed. Banging my fists on the desk either side of the laptop – and the stupid words on it. I nearly bashed the laptop too but stopped myself just in time. I couldn’t afford to buy a new one.

I grabbed the letters from the bin and opened the new one. It had a stamp on it, a stamped stamp, and it said exactly the same thing as the open document on my laptop.

‘OK mind, let’s see what you can produce now.’ I took a few deep, shaky breaths and dug my nails deep into my thighs. It made me feel marginally better.

‘Close your eyes and sit still for twenty second then write down how you feel afterwards.’ My voice sounded far away, like it came from outside the window.

Perhaps it was exhaustion, perhaps it was madness, but I started feeling calmer straight away. At twenty I let out a deep sigh and opened my eyes. Calisto’s face was right in front of me, his bottom resting on the keyboard.

‘I feel furious,’ I whispered. My whole body floating on a cloud.

‘I bet you do,’ said Calisto and jumped off the desk.

I opened a new document, wrote ‘I feel furious’ and saved it as ‘notes to my crazy self.’ Then I fell asleep.

The cool strips of early morning light whispering across the floorboards told me I must have slept straight through the afternoon and night. Calisto was snoring gently on the pillow next to me. I stretched out a hand and scratched him behind the ear. He looked quite sweet when he was sleeping. Peaceful.

The sitting room looked exactly as I thought it would. Fuschia pot and soil scattered all over the floor by the windowsill, letters and envelopes strewn on the sofa, my laptop with its screen popped open. I got a brush and tray and cleaned up the mess by the window, then gathered the letters and put them next to my laptop. I wondered if there was a third one. TTO.

The screams didn’t register at first as it’d been so long since I’d heard that kind of noise. I walked over to the window and peered outside. I couldn’t see anyone, but the screams were getting louder and louder. Perhaps it was the visit yesterday, perhaps it was more madness, but I threw caution to the wind and opened the window, leaning out as far as I could to locate the noise. It was a baby. On my doorstep. Just a baby. No adult. A baby in a car seat. With a letter propped up on the baby’s chest.

I couldn’t take this baby inside, I’d kill it! Although, as there was a letter with it, this was probably just part of my madness. Nothing would happen to the baby because there was no baby.

‘I think I’ve just stolen a baby.’ A pair of huge brown eyes stared at me from their perch on the dining table.

‘I’m proud of you, it’s some kind of progress.’ Calisto sounded only vaguely sarcastic which made me feel uncomfortable.

‘Are you going to read the letter?’ he jumped up on the table, swishing his tail against the baby’s face which made her giggle.

‘Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. Yes, yes I will. I don’t know. Argh!’ I stamped my foot on the floor pumping my fists.

‘What kind of twisted mind produces a baby?’ I snatched the letter off the baby’s chest and ripped it open, then flung it onto my desk without reading it.

Calisto sat down next to the baby, looking strangely protective with his chin slightly raised and eyes narrowing, as if to say ‘if you hurt this baby…’

‘What do you think of me Calisto? And anyway, this is all happening in my mind.’ I loosened the seatbelt and slowly lifted the baby out of the car seat. She smiled at me, tentatively, then let out a little gurgle. I felt a surge in my chest, a sort of painful and gorgeous surge that slipped all the way up to my head and pressed its way out of my eyes.

‘I think she needs changing,’ I said, wiping my cheek with the back of my hand. There had been a small bag next to the car seat with nappies and wipes and formula. I laid the baby gently down onto a towel on the floor. It was all quite intuitive really, changing a nappy. Calisto pointed out in his usual pithy way that I was putting the nappy on back to front, but other than that he betrayed his evil self by purring every time he was near the baby.

I sat down on the sofa, holding her gently against my chest. She’d just had a bottle of milk and was now falling asleep. Waves of something new and strange flowed through me. I think through Calisto too as he hadn’t said anything horrible for at least an hour. Now he laid heavily against my thigh, eyes dipping at the same rate as the baby’s, until finally they closed completely. Both purring lightly while I tended to the aching feeling in my chest that felt so good it nearly crushed me.

Letter 3

Calisto had been strangely quiet the whole day, spending most of his time sleeping next to the baby. I tried to write but kept glancing over at the last letter. I couldn’t remember writing this one either.

Dear baby,

You are sleeping now, changed, fed, and loved – even if you don’t quite know what that is yet. I loved you long before you arrived. Imagine that. Now you are nestled in a cradle of pillows on the floor, but before that you were nestled deep inside me, so deep I couldn’t see you at all.

I know you will disappear again, but I will always remember.

Do nothing now. Just close your eyes and wake up.

With all my love,


I didn’t want to close my eyes, I didn’t want to wake up. What if I woke up and none of this was here anymore? I loved this baby, even if it wasn’t really here. I even loved Calisto, despite his cruel streak and the fact he wasn’t really here either.

It had been some time now since I’d thought about the poison. It’s not that I I’d stopped believing I was poisoned, I just didn’t feel poisonous anymore.

‘Where do you think he is now, man me I mean?’ Calisto’s voice sounded different, as if he was interested in my answer.

I don’t know,’ I said. ‘He wasn’t really here you know.’

‘And neither am I, right?’

If cats could smile, I’m pretty sure Calisto was smiling right now.

‘Indeed, and neither are you.’ I scratched him behind the ear, and he tipped his head up to let me stroke him under the chin.

‘What will you do when we are all gone?’

‘I don’t know,’ I said.

I turned back to my laptop and stared at the empty screen.

‘Maybe you could write him a letter?’ Calisto jumped up on my desk and sat down next to my glass of water, hitting it with his tail.

‘Careful with that,’ I said and moved it to the other side.

‘I wouldn’t know what to say,’ I said. ‘What if he comes and takes the baby away?’

‘He’s you, so if he does, it would be you taking the baby away.’

‘Do you think you are me too?’ I said staring at Calisto, stupidly realising this was the first time I’d considered this.

‘I’m pretty sure you know the answer to that,’ he said and jumped off the desk.

Letter 4

Dear Sir, me,

I am writing to you now because I would quite like to meet you again. I’m pretty sure I’m not poisonous anymore, not that that was an issue for you anyway. It’s all a bit strange really, but it also makes perfect sense.

I have a feeling this will all be gone soon, but I’d quite like to see you before it happens. I want to say thank you.



The doorbell rang immediately. I walked calmy into the hallway and opened the door fully.

‘Hello,’ I said. ‘I guess that’s for me.’

Behind me I could feel it all disappearing.

He handed me a letter with a smile.

‘Have a nice day, madam.’

‘Thank you, sir,’ I said.

I could hear children’s chatter and laughter bouncing in from the pavement through the open window in the sitting room.

Placing the unopened letter on the sideboard I grabbed my coat and keys.

‘Think I’ll go for a walk,’ I called to Calisto. He replied in a high pitched Miaow, indignantly telling me he wanted to be fed first.

My words snuck in through the gap in the door just as it closed.

‘Stay away from the fuchsia.’